My weekly reading list, with more on bananas, dogs watching pay-per-view and iPhone subscriber costs

This week has been a busy one, with the kids finishing school and prepping for summer break, reviews of upcoming communications, customer reports, dogfood testing of new software and preparations for end of the fiscal year.  Oh, and I clean installed a copy of Windows Vista SP1 on to one of the family PCs: that was the easy part.  (More later on how a little Sandisk thumb drive saved my migrating email bacon – that was the tough part.)

First off, a few items on the IPhone, starting with this article on how at $199 the iPhone is “$160 More Expensive Than The $399 iPhone It Replaced. What?” — Consumerist says that “Apple’s new 3G iPhone might seem like a bargain at $199: more features, 3G speeds, and $200 cheaper than the original model. Great, except it’s not actually cheaper. The new $199 iPhone is actually $160 more than the $399 iPhone it replaces.”

Add to that the question in the article I found on Money’s site: “Will business buy the new iPhone?” (Jun. 19, 2008) — “Apple is taking a new corporate-friendly tact with the iPhone as it tries to convince companies that it means business about meeting their needs.” (By Jon Fortt and Michal Lev-Ram, June 20, 2008.)  And last, this commentary from The Register, “3G iPhone not ready for the enterprise?”, on the iPhone’s suitability for Enterprise use.

And finally, something that will save you money: has Windows Live OneCare 2.0 Software free after rebate — Get Windows Live OneCare 2.0 for free via mail-in rebate when you buy from (Limit one per household.) Note that you must print out and redeem the form to receive your rebate.

Now, on to the list.

The old saying goes (circa 1993) that “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” (yes, we had the Internet way back when… we used MS Mail, QuickMail and Mosaic for browsers).  Well, now days, on cable pay-per-view, no one can tell that you’re a dog. In this case, Time Warner customer billed $1,400 for PPV — Consumerist reports that Time Warner has billed a 60-year-old English teacher $1,400 for ordering PPV… “including 17 flicks supposedly viewed on a single day.” The customer was told “maybe your dog ordered them” by the TWC customer service agent. Amazing.

Op-Ed Contributor – Yes, We Will Have No Bananas – Op-Ed – — DAN KOEPPEL of the Times says (June 18, 2008) “brace yourself… bananas reaching $1 a pound. The immediate reasons for the price increase are the rising cost of oil and reduced supply caused by floods in Ecuador, the world’s biggest banana exporter.  As the BBC, reported that “edible bananas may disappear within a decade if urgent action is not taken to develop new varieties resistant to blight.” Also of interest, see The BBC’s Tom Heap on how “Bananas are the world’s favourite fruit”,  and Emile Frison, banana expert who said that the pending doom of banana “Extinction is a little bit exaggerated”

Nokia: leaks cause us major problems. Us: so get your act together. – Engadget by Ryan Block, posted Jun 20th 2008 at 7:16PM: “Now here’s something you don’t see every day: a manufacturer openly complaining about its own product leaks on their corporate blog.”

Exclusives: Powerpoint By Pissed Comcast Employee Reveals They Know Exactly How Much They Suck — It’s no secret to Consumerist readers that Comcast’s outsourced techs are often late, rude and incompetent, and that calling customer service is more akin to improving dialogue in a Beckett play, but as this exclusively powerpoint made by a Comcast employ

Gates without Microsoft – FORTUNE Magazine — Ah, retirement. For Bill Gates, it will mean time to kick back, relax, and rethink philanthropy, learn biochemistry, eradicate malaria, and develop drought-resistant crops. See also…

Gates without Microsoft – FORTUNE Magazine slide show — Bill Gates hosted a slide show of sorts for Fortune Magazine that you can enjoy, complete with Bill’s own narration.

Microsoft To Combine Identity and Security Divisions – Software – IT Channel News by CRN and VARBusiness — By Kevin McLaughlin, Jun. 19, 2008 – Microsoft this week unveiled plans to roll up its Access Security Division and Identity and Access Divisions into a single, unified group, in a move that will take effect at the start of Microsoft’s fiscal year on July

Lexon Around Clock – acquire — “I’ve always been a sucker for unique and unconvential clock designs and this new model from Lexon has definitely caught my eye. The Around Clock is a cylinder with numbers and markings that rotates to show the time as identified by the red wire.

Shiptool, every carrier for every user — Find the cheapest way to send a package with web application Shiptool. After providing the site with your shipping and destination addresses and package type, Shiptool scours UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL, and returns all of your shipping options sorted by price… saved by 404 other people

Billshrink: Sneak Peek Of’s New Credit Card Comparison Tool — is going to bring a never-before-seen level of transparency to consumers looking for the best credit card offer. Think of it as a turbocharged dashboard for navigating the credit card market.

Totlol – Video for Toddlers, Infants, Preschoolers and Parents — Lifehacker said that “While YouTube may be a great place to answer your toddler’s requests to see video of a baby panda, there is also tons of content more risqué than adorable baby animals. Video site Totlol offers the good stuff from YouTube to your kids… saved by 369 other people

Tip Testers: DIY Pegboard Media Center — Reader jay-martin took our popular pegboard gadget mount DIY project out from under the computer desk and into the living room’s entertainment center.

How Will Your Organization Be Affected by Windows Vista SP1? – — AppDeploy presents a free webinar discussing the latest information on the first major release for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) from Microsoft, titled “What Windows Vista SP1 Means for Administrators.”

Howto: Be a Customer Service Ninja — Inspired to by Mike D’s Vonage story, Austin writes in a hot tip for all of looking to pole vault low-level CSR and reach the Valhalla of customer service.

Sony VAIO VGC-LT29U – Reviews by PC Magazine — The Sony VAIO VGC-LT29U is an energy-efficient, beautiful, cable-ready all-in-one PC. Pity Sony loaded it with more advertisements than an American Idol broadcast. That said, it’s a still great PC/DVR/TV. By Joel Santo Domingo, June 13, 2008

The worse company, bar none, for customer service is Microsoft (MSN Money Message Boards) — “For over 2 years I’ve been trying to get my internet and email service to run without crashing. No such luck, with every call to Microsoft…”

Microsoft on Message Boards: Consumer Action Forum – MSN Money

Microsoft: choice for worst customer service! (MSN Money Message Boards) A customer rants “… lets face it, the number one company for torturing its customers has to be Microsoft. On top of that they pretty much have no free customer service.”

Hewlett Packard Customer Service (MSN Money Message Boards) — A customer rants “When I called and had to pay a flat fee of $100, or pay some ungodly rate per hour to talk to these idiots, I was told I would have to send the PC back to HP.”

Apple’s Customer Service (MSN Money Message Boards) tjfear says “I first bought an Apple product in August of 2006 and I have had nothing but trouble with the machine and customer relations since.”

“THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!” (MSN Money Message Boards) – “customer service reps have problems at home, can be hateful, sales are very competitive, conspiracies are formed, bi-polar personalities, jealous…and poor training. Who gets the brunt of this? The customer.”

Local slang makes ‘Zune’ a joke in Quebec – Mac – Macworld UK

GamePro Halo Wars article now online – Xbox 360 Fanboy — With the GamePro Halo Wars cover story on shelves for a while now, the magazine has seen fit to post a (less robust) preview on their website. Posted Jun 18th 2008 5:50PM by Richard Mitchell

IE Sends Mozilla a New Cake for Firefox 3 : In Pursuit of Mysteries — “Sean from Microsoft came by just a few minutes ago to drop off a cake for the Internet Explorer team. As people may recall, the IE team sent Mozilla a cake after Firefox 2 shipped and it seems that they wanted to continue the tradition.”

Invest more on customer care or risk dwindling fortunes, ALTON boss tells telecom operators (Vanguard Online) — The Chairman of ALTON in Nigeria (telcos) “has sounded a note of warning to operators that unless they invest meaningfully on the empowerment of their contact centre agents, they would continue to experience dwindling customer loyalty.”

Tech Beat More from Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, on whether Google is too powerful – BusinessWeek — Posted by: Peter Burrows, March 30, 2007 – In the course gathering some reporting for Rob Hof’s cover story this week, “Who’s Afraid of Google,” Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz was good enough to give us a phone interview. As usual, he was eloquent…”

For Help Say ‘Help ‘ … But Hold the Accent – Advertising Age – The Big Tent — Posted by Laura Martinez on 12.19.07 — “If you think voice-automated customer service systems are stupid, frustrating and useless, let me tell you something: They are even worse for those of us who happen to have an accent. No joke.”

E-mail etiquette for wireless devices: 7 tips — Lifehacker calls out a new section on the Microsoft Small Business Center, that says “widespread use of email on mobile devices has changed a few email etiquette rules and details seven tips for refining your mobile email manners.”

Windows Vista: How to Make Windows Vista Less Annoying — lifehacker says “Say hello to fellow tech writer and Lifehacker reader The How-To Geek, who was kind enough to pull together some of best Windows Vista power tweaks here on Lifehacker today.” Apparently this is a popular theme… as it was saved by 618 other people.

Help me organize my iTunes library! | Ask Metafilter — “What’s the best way to organize and re-tag my enormous MP3 library? (iTunes, Mac 10.5, 20k+ songs)”

Inside Microsoft’s $550 Million Mega Data Centers — InformationWeek — You don;t need a blue bade to get a tour of the latest data centre in San Antonio: “A tour of Microsoft’s gargantuan, under-construction San Antonio data center reveals a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure on an immense scale.” By J. Nicholas Hoover, June 17, 2008

Probe shows kiddie porn rap was bogus – — By Laurel J. Sweet, June 16, 2008 – A child porn possession charge lodged against a Department of Industrial Accidents investigator fired for having smut on his state-issued laptop has been dismissed because experts concluded he was unwittingly spammed.

Hosted Exchange Saved My Bacon – Security Watch — “You don’t realize just how awful POP3 e-mail is until it’s down.” Read this story, posted By Larry Seltzer

HP MediaSmart Connect brings digital media to your HDTV – Engadget reports that the HP “MediaSmart Connect is finally available for pre-order… for your HDTV. Or you could stream content from your MCE to your Xbox 360.

Just for fun, this article on MAKE: Blog: Robot rock group readies for next gig

Tags: misc, articles, what I read

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